First published in The Irish Times, Saturday 13th October, 2018
Growing up, I always loved a family Sunday lunch. It didn’t really matter that we spent much of the time arguing with each other; I liked the sense of occasion. My tasks always included taking out the “good” tablecloth and crockery, and for especially auspicious lunches, creating curls of real butter.
My dad, a French teacher, was unusual at the time, in that he enjoyed wine. On a teacher’s salary, he couldn’t afford it very often but once a month, he would go to the local off-licence and buy either a bottle of beer, or more often, a bottle of Nicolas Vieux Ceps, which came with a handy plastic cap, or sometimes a bottle of Lutomer Riesling from what was then Yugoslavia and is now Slovenia.
These days, drinking wine in the middle of the day makes me drowsy and unable to drive, However, every now and again, the family unites for a celebratory traditional Sunday lunch, a roast with all the trimmings, and more often than not, we will enjoy some wine.
A special occasion deserves good wine; unless you have a very large family, this is the time to spend a few euros more on your wine. They are your own flesh and blood after all.
Roast beef or lamb are among the most wine-friendly foods of all. The traditional accompaniment would be a Bordeaux, preferably from the Médoc, but a Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia, the US or Chile should also have the tannic bite that works so well with red meat. Rioja Reserva is a classic match for lamb and I would recommend paying €15 or more, as some of the cheap Rioja Reservas are not great – far better to go for a Rioja Crianza instead. Alternatively, you could go Italian and serve a Chianti Classico or a Barolo.
You can serve either red or white wine with roast chicken or pork. In fact, a good roast chicken will provide the perfect backdrop for your finest wine, red or white. I generally go for a red wine, these days frequently a Pinot Noir, a Mencía from Galicia, or a warming Côtes du Rhône, the latter a good match for most Sunday roasts.
You can drink Pinot Noir with salmon, but I prefer a white wine and a rich Chardonnay from Burgundy or elsewhere is probably best, but you could experiment with Grüner Veltliner or Viognier.
If there are vegetarians at the table, try to cook something that will match the wine you are serving – roast mushrooms, stuffed aubergines, red peppers and pasta bakes all go well with the above mentioned Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rioja Reserva or Chianti. Roast root vegetables and cauliflower cheese are often better with white wines, or why not try a rosé?
Château Sainte-Marie Réserve 2016, Bordeaux Réserve
13%, €17.95 down to €15.95
Medium-bodied, supple and smooth with concentrated sweet blackcurrant fruits, a hint of vanilla spice, and ripe tannins on the finish. Perfect with roast beef or lamb. From O’Briens, obrienswine.ie
Les Deux Cols Alizé 2016, Côtes du Rhône
A very restrained elegant wine with ripe dark forest fruits, olives, herbs and black pepper, and a subtle acidity to bring it to life. With roast pork or chicken. From Searsons Wine Merchants, Monkstown, searsons.com; 64 Wine, Glasthule, 64wine.ie; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, jusdevine.ie; Ely Wine Store, Maynooth; Donnybrook Fair, donnybrookfair.ie; Lilac Wines, Dublin 3, lilacwines.ie; Green Man Wines, Terenure, greenmanwines.ie; Redmonds, Ranelagh, redmonds.ie; The Cinnamon Cottage, Cork, cinnamoncottage.ie; Drinkstore, Manor St, Dublin 7, drinkstore.ie; Martin’s Off-Licence, Clontarf, martinsofflicence.ie; Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown, whelehanswines.ie; J. J. Fields, Skibereen; Deveney’s, Dundrum; La Touche, Greystones, latouchewines4u.ie
Mâcon-Charnay 2015, Jean Manciat
Lovely rich ripe pure apple fruits, balanced perfectly by a seam of refreshing citrus acidity. With salmon, roast chicken or pork. From Searsons Wine Merchants, Monkstown, searsons.com; Cashel Wine Cellar, Cashel; Sweeney’s Wines, Glasnevin, sweeneyswines.ie; Martin’s Off Licence, Clontarf, martinsofflicence.ie; Donnybrook Fair, donnybrookfair.ie
Château Mauvesin Barton 2014, Moulis-en-Médoc
Classic, elegant claret with a lovely fragrant nose, and smooth blackcurrant fruits that glide across the palate, finishing dry. With roast beef or fillet steak. From Searsons Wine Merchants, Monkstown, searsons.com; O’Briens, obrienswine.ie